Our strategy for high school was a part of our thought process for about seven years before Brandon reached that point. Once we crossed the threshold from Freshman to Sophomore year most of our concerns were abated.
We feared the inevitable inclusion or exclusion discussion that we knew would take place in the summer between middle school and high school. Although we averted the school's initial attempt to place Brandon exclusively in special education, things didn’t start out perfectly. As the school year progressed Teresa became involved at the school through the Booster Club and began to volunteer in the administration office; Brandon’s experience at school began to improve. It took considerable effort to get him involved with Homecoming week, lunch time activities, and ultimately after school sports. I became a coach for the Basketball team; Brandon quickly made a collection of friends who were well connected on campus.
From November on Brandon’s experience was pretty much A+. He was accepted, involved, and had so many friends on campus in all age groups that his daily safety became less of a concern to Teresa and I. The last piece of the puzzle that really solidified Brandon’s success as a freshman was his aide Ely. She was fantastic, and intuitively understood that Brandon had abilities far beyond reading and writing. She helped cultivate learning inside and outside the classroom. She monitored his social interactions and soon discovered that he left a lasting impression on every person he touched. I am not certain what the next few years will hold for him. I am sure they will be filled with hard work, dances, sports, drama, and typical high school activities.
The important thing as we continue this journey is for Teresa and I to stay involved from a distance so that Brandon is allowed to make his own decisions and learn how to become self-sufficient. This is the process that we will nurture, support, and coordinate with the intent that he will graduate and head off to college with the skills to make a life of his choosing. This is our expectation for Brandon and is one we had from the outset of his academic ride.
Brandon was accepted into the ASB class at his high school, who knows what possibilities this will lead to!
1. Work Hard
2. Choose Kindness
3. Be Yourself
"Leadership means standing tall for yourself and for the others who have no voice."
Brandon participated in a weight lifting demo during his high school weight lifting class!
Brandon proudly holds up his acceptance note into ASB after he puts his shirt on. He knows it’s the ticket for an inclusive senior year! ASB T-shirt: “What you do has far great impact than what you say” -Stephen Covey